Who knew that growing quality coffee was such a difficult task? In fact, cultivating a quality coffee plot can take an entire generation to perfect. So how do small farmers with limited capital and capacity ever compete in such a market? Are they doomed to sell poor-quality beans (ones that will eventually be used for low-grade instant coffee) for next to nothing, or can they polish their growing practices enough to make a pretty penny selling to the likes of Illy and Starbucks? Lutheran World Relief’s intervention throughout the coffee growing world strengthens small, local coffee cooperatives in a number of ways, to include providing access to finance and processing equipment. In the above video, however, it’s the intervention of the Community Knowledge Worker that is highlighted. These CKWs, who are trained by LWR, move from farm to farm and work up close with small farmers themselves, advising them and[…]Read More
Post Tagged with: "coffee"
On my whirlwind five-day trip to Uganda last month I managed to cover a lot of ground in both the east and west of the country. Squeezed between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, Uganda may look like a dwarf on the map, but it’s actually more than double the size of my home state of Virginia. Combining that with some poor road conditions means it can take 12 hours or more to get from one side to the other. Bukonzo Organic Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (BOCU) is a fair trade coffee producer based in the town of Kasese, Uganda. Its coffee farmers, however, grow their crop in the nearby Rwenzori Mountains. Shared Interest invests in BOCU and other fair trade producers around the globe. The Rwenzori Mountains were known to the ancient world as the Mountains of Moon for their snow-capped white peaks. (Sadly there’s little of these[…]Read More
Take a tour of the coffee process as it occurs before it reaches your machine. Your guide, Atandi, is a small farmer in Kenya who tells of the lucrativeness of her new cash crop. Above, boys fish at sunset off the shores of Lake Victoria in Kisumu. Other stills from my time among the coffee growers of Western Kenya:Read More
Three coffee shops next to each other on the same block? One right across from the other? This isn’t the left bank of the Seine or downtown DC. This is Ethiopia! Sure, coffee is grown and exported from other African countries like Tanzania and Kenya, but only in Ethiopia is coffee cultivated, harvested, roasted, and afterwards widely consumed by the public. In fact, coffee is deeply entrenched in the fiber of Ethiopian society. Long before the Italians came to attempt a takeover of the country (they failed), Ethiopians have been savoring sweet espresso, home-style. The Italian espresso machine did catch on, however, as it has elsewhere, and is nearly as ubiquitous in Ethiopia as the jabena, the traditional kettle in which coffee is prepared here. Coffee even originates from Ethiopia. It comes from a region known as Kaffa, from which most languages derive their word for the caffeinated essential. Below,[…]Read More
It’s hard to believe it had been five years since I’d been to Ethiopia, not counting the many hours of down time spent making a connection in Addis Ababa’s airport. Recently I arrived a couple days early for a ChildFund assignment in this Horn of Africa country so that I might explore an ancient city in Ethiopia’s exotic East. Harar’s meandering old town is other-worldly, a step back in time along the caravan routes of the middle ages. Indeed, if it weren’t for Coca Cola’s stubborn presence inside the city walls it may sometimes be difficult to decipher which decade, or even century, you were losing your way in. Most Ethiopians don’t mind having their photograph taken. It was my original intention to shoot only portraits for these two days I’d set aside. However, I was quickly enveloped in the atmosphere of the town and the eye candy was too[…]Read More